Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Dark Skies

There’s little to fear from this rather tame genre outing.

Feb 23, 2013

-By Justin Lowe


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1372028-Dark_Skies_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

While not advance press-screened by distributor Dimension Films, audiences still have a pretty good idea of what to expect when genre director Scott Stewart teams with Paranormal Activity franchise originator Blumhouse Productions on an alien-abduction suspenser. Despite true believers and core horror and fantasy demos evincing opening-weekend curiosity, enthusiasm for Dark Skies is likely to diminish noticeably with lukewarm word of mouth, although ancillary prospects appear robust.

Just like folks everywhere, Daniel and Lacy Barrett are a loving couple with a growing family and too many bills to pay. Daniel (Josh Hamilton) has been laid off from his job as an architect and realtor Lacy (Keri Russell) is constantly struggling to make a home sale, but properties aren't moving in their nondescript suburban town. With two young sons to look out for—young teen Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and his kid brother Sam (Kadan Rockett)—they’re fighting foreclosure on their house and other mounting debts.

So it seems like just one more inconvenience when strange things begin happening in their home, with the contents of their fridge and cupboards disgorged into the kitchen late at night, the inexplicable disappearance of family photos from their frames, and false alarms triggering their home-security system.

Things go from messy to spooky when Sam explains the mysterious developments by saying that the “Sandman” has been paying him nightly visits, causing his parents increasing concern. Daniel’s gambit of rigging the house with security cameras reveals a nocturnal energy force coursing through the house, but it’s the mass suicide of dozens of birds mysteriously smacking into the exterior of their home and bouts of trance-like disassociation they’re all suffering that really unnerve the couple.

Lacy’s Internet research reveals similar incidents plaguing other families, all associated with alien visitation, but it isn’t until reclusive ET expert Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons) provides the menacing context for the strange rashes, nosebleeds and marks on their bodies that Daniel and Lacy go into overdrive in an attempt to protect the safety of their family.

While mostly skirting the effects-dependent plot devices of his earlier releases Legion and Priest, Stewart borrows heavily from notable supernatural and sci-fi predecessors, managing to noticeably devalue the effectiveness of the alien-abduction subgenre with overly deliberate pacing, miscued suspense and fairly predictable plotting.

Never quite sure if he’s relying more on horror or sci-fi conventions to drive the narrative, Stewart can’t seem to muster much tension by relying predominantly on his intermittently effective cast. Russell generates some persuasive emotion in a few key scenes, but gets held back by Hamilton’s curiously stiff performance and nearly upstaged by Simmons’ simmering, low-key appearance.

Approaching the first half of the film fairly conventionally, Stewart then misses the opportunity to capitalize on shifting to more full-on genre mode, although cinematographer David Boyd’s visuals are solid throughout and composer Joseph Bishara’s unnerving score supports the action without overwhelming it. The film’s brief coda succinctly caps the few final twists while unsubtly tipping its sequel potential.
—The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Dark Skies

There’s little to fear from this rather tame genre outing.

Feb 23, 2013

-By Justin Lowe


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1372028-Dark_Skies_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

While not advance press-screened by distributor Dimension Films, audiences still have a pretty good idea of what to expect when genre director Scott Stewart teams with Paranormal Activity franchise originator Blumhouse Productions on an alien-abduction suspenser. Despite true believers and core horror and fantasy demos evincing opening-weekend curiosity, enthusiasm for Dark Skies is likely to diminish noticeably with lukewarm word of mouth, although ancillary prospects appear robust.

Just like folks everywhere, Daniel and Lacy Barrett are a loving couple with a growing family and too many bills to pay. Daniel (Josh Hamilton) has been laid off from his job as an architect and realtor Lacy (Keri Russell) is constantly struggling to make a home sale, but properties aren't moving in their nondescript suburban town. With two young sons to look out for—young teen Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and his kid brother Sam (Kadan Rockett)—they’re fighting foreclosure on their house and other mounting debts.

So it seems like just one more inconvenience when strange things begin happening in their home, with the contents of their fridge and cupboards disgorged into the kitchen late at night, the inexplicable disappearance of family photos from their frames, and false alarms triggering their home-security system.

Things go from messy to spooky when Sam explains the mysterious developments by saying that the “Sandman” has been paying him nightly visits, causing his parents increasing concern. Daniel’s gambit of rigging the house with security cameras reveals a nocturnal energy force coursing through the house, but it’s the mass suicide of dozens of birds mysteriously smacking into the exterior of their home and bouts of trance-like disassociation they’re all suffering that really unnerve the couple.

Lacy’s Internet research reveals similar incidents plaguing other families, all associated with alien visitation, but it isn’t until reclusive ET expert Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons) provides the menacing context for the strange rashes, nosebleeds and marks on their bodies that Daniel and Lacy go into overdrive in an attempt to protect the safety of their family.

While mostly skirting the effects-dependent plot devices of his earlier releases Legion and Priest, Stewart borrows heavily from notable supernatural and sci-fi predecessors, managing to noticeably devalue the effectiveness of the alien-abduction subgenre with overly deliberate pacing, miscued suspense and fairly predictable plotting.

Never quite sure if he’s relying more on horror or sci-fi conventions to drive the narrative, Stewart can’t seem to muster much tension by relying predominantly on his intermittently effective cast. Russell generates some persuasive emotion in a few key scenes, but gets held back by Hamilton’s curiously stiff performance and nearly upstaged by Simmons’ simmering, low-key appearance.

Approaching the first half of the film fairly conventionally, Stewart then misses the opportunity to capitalize on shifting to more full-on genre mode, although cinematographer David Boyd’s visuals are solid throughout and composer Joseph Bishara’s unnerving score supports the action without overwhelming it. The film’s brief coda succinctly caps the few final twists while unsubtly tipping its sequel potential.
—The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Film Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Latest rollicking entry in the sturdy series (installments one and two together hit a billion dollars in grosses) again has natural and historic wonders come alive at night to wreak havoc. But it’s largely kids’ stuff. More »

The Interview
Film Review: The Interview

If you’re curious, the movie that has North Korea so upset is genuinely amusing, if flawed in the length department. More »

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here